Category Archives: Five Stars

Bullets and Bandages

Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers by [Saniscalchi, Robert]

Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers is a suspenseful novel, that is inspired by true events and unfolds like a memoir that doesn’t just focus on the individual, but tells a larger story about brotherhood and courage.

There are those who glorify the war and the “kills” that are made. Indeed some of them get churned out into the Hollywood blockbusters. But not this book. It defines a standard to what a story should be, and it has turned out to be an excellent one.

The author brings to us a realistic view of what it is to be on the front line. The grisly details and the combat, the weariness of the body and soul, the mourning of loss, brothers-in-arms; the depth of emotion in these reflections is what I found most riveting. Truly, the absence of flowery prose is what sets it apart. I feel as if I am indeed in the trenches, in the jungle of Vietnam with Rob, the field medic as he tries to bring together the two diametrically apart functions – trying to save his fellow soldiers while taking down the enemy.

It truly made me realize that wars are not just fought by planes, and ships as they are depicted and glorified in movies. Nor are they fought by generals or Presidents. They are fought by thousands of nameless soldiers, who are at the front sweating and shedding their blood and sacrificing lives. It is a shame that when they come back stateside, they are forgotten by youngsters and politicians alike, cast aside as misfits. It is time we start respecting the sacrifices they made – leaving their families and serving the nation with honor, dignity, and integrity.

From the time I started reading the book, I was glued to it. Of course, there are books which will keep you occupied for hours, but not many of them give you an opportunity to introspect. A thorough, well-crafted thriller.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B084HNYGB6

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Time For The World To Learn From Africa

Time for the World to Learn From Africa (Hearing Others' Voices) by [Finnegan, Ruth]

Time for the World to Learn From Africa by Ruth Finnegan is an educational book that brings forth the historical and characteristic details of Africa from the perspective of a seasoned academic and researcher. Ruth Finnegan provides great insights into the African civilization and authoritatively correct widely held misconceptions about the cultural, artistic and educational foundations of the prestigious continent. She does this by tendering empirical evidence both from her research and the documented findings of others; including African academics.

Finnegan’s plunge into the intricacies of the cultural heritage of the 2nd largest continent isn’t without credible basis. Her solid educational background in the humanities, combined with the experience she garnered while living and teaching in Africa helped set the stage for this well structured and informative book. She divides the book into 11 parts, 10 of which are dedicated to specific cultural and artistic aspects of Africa. She begins her journey to set the records straight by first attacking the notion that all cultural subsets of the African civilization are fundamentally alike. Finnegan debunks this misconception by citing examples of multiple African cultural groups that differ in their social, religious and economic forms.

In subsequent chapters, Finnegan backs up her claims that there is much for the world to learn from Africa by delving into the traditional, historical and often overlooked artistic archives of the continent. Her first stop is the literary uniqueness of African cultural groups. Here, she discusses expansively the nature of African literature; pointing out that members of that civilization while not abandoning written literary works, favored oral literary forms and performing arts. I enjoyed this part more than any other because Finnegan doesn’t just treat the subject superficially, rather, she digs deep and supplies detailed information on Africa’s admirable oral-literary expeditions.

Finnegan then proceeds to touch on another of Africa’s intriguing peculiarity: language. She’s quick to highlight the complexity and varying dimensions of African languages, refuting the claim that African Languages are on the whole primitive and devoid of the structure of their western counterparts. I savoured this part as I got to see the enthralling bits of African languages, especially their extremely tonal nature.

The next chapter looks at the place of panegyrics or praise poetry in African traditions and how the vastly stylish literary components of these praise songs or chants are inspiring to both African and non-African artists. In other chapters, Finnegan assesses other deeply entrenched cultural components of African civilizations including the creative use of drums for communication, the intriguing bond that exists between musical performance and dance in Africa, the elaborate attention given to names and the naming process, the role of proverbs in African communication and a host of other captivating African themes.

Finnegan’s attention to detail and comforting simplicity ensures that even high school students can benefit hugely from her findings. She writes in an engaging tone and pulls you tenderly through the pages of the book by using her sharp storytelling skills, allowing you to enjoy your exposure to the cultural and historical details.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07RJTBDNF

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Surviving Baby Loss While Battling Infertility

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Shortly before delivering her first-born child, Christina suffers a complete placental abruption, and her life is forever changed. She faces loss, confusion, and frustration as she tries to understand the hand she and her new husband have been dealt. Nothing feels like the loss of a child, and nothing compares with the pain it brings. An otherwise healthy pregnancy ending so suddenly creates a myriad of questions and tests Christina’s faith in everything she thought she once knew and understood. Her story is real. Her story is true. And her story is a painful one.

Surviving Baby Loss While Battling Infertility is a poignant true story written by Kiali Jackie Garrett. The main character, Christina’s, story is told in present tense making it all the more enthralling. As she moves through the moments leading up to the heartbreaking placental abruption that takes her first-born son from her, the reader is pulled into her world and witnesses the true devastation she feels and how deeply she mourns for the baby she wanted so badly.

From planning for her tiny son’s funeral to moving through the steps of grief, Christina’s story is one to behold. She learns to open her heart again and feel. The raw emotions and true challenges with which she is presented offer readers a clear and moving picture of loss and how others cope with such tragedies. Throughout the book, Christina makes clear her conflicting feelings and is open about her inner struggles. Readers will find her easily relatable and find comfort in knowing they are not alone.

One of the most touching parts of Christina’s story is her frankness about her feelings. The fact that she and her husband struggle with even sharing their story is very telling. It is indicative of the world we live in and the criticism and questions they feared they might face. Theirs is an extremely private and painful battle. The author is to be commended for placing this story in the hands of readers who so desperately need someone on their side who does not sit in judgement.

Never have I read a more open and touching account of the loss of a child and the battle to overcome infertility. I recommend this book to any reader who needs to feel less alone in their world of pain and questions.

Pages: 148

 

Shave Ice Paradise

Gina is on a mission, and it’s one she never envisioned herself having to accept. When Aunt Nalani is found dead, Gina is asked to dig further into the case as the police don’t see a reason to do so. Known for her uncanny ability to find things, Gina finds it difficult to say no to her aunt’s good friend and her pleas for answers. Her investigation leads her to Curly, and things are never the same. As the two work on the down low with Moreno, Gina’s good friend and confidant, they uncover a trail of clues they can only begin to understand.

Shave Ice Paradise, a novel by Mark Daniel Seiler, details the mysterious death of Nalani and Gina’s quest to uncover the truth about her disappearance and discovery of her body in a place Gina is sure she’d never been. When Gina meets Curly, the entire tone of the book changes, and the story takes on a new feel. Gina and Curly are an unlikely pair indeed.  The addition of Curly adds a welcome dimension to what could have been a sobering plot with a cast of mourning characters. I appreciated the occasional comedic relief provided between both Gina and Curly and Curly and Moreno.

Seiler writes a fast-paced mystery novel. Gina and Curly move quickly from one site to the next and rapidly begin putting two and two together. I am impressed with the way Seiler is able to relate one clue to the next and keep the pace of the story flowing smoothly. In addition, the dialogue throughout the book is engaging and helps to develop a cast of well-developed characters. I found myself trying to work through the clues even when I took breaks in the reading.

There is some profanity throughout the book though not enough to deter readers from continuing. Seiler assigns this type of language appropriately to his characters, and it adds to the story by helping readers visualize how emotionally invested they are in the events. I am not one to use profanity in my own writing, but I appreciate it when it adds to the plot.

I have always been a fan of mysteries. There is nothing quite like a well-done mystery, and Seiler has more than achieved that through Gina and Curly. I highly recommend mystery fans pick up a copy.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 1947003682

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Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus

Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus by [Canzano, Joe]

Suzy is searching. A part of her is tired of all the running but deep down she knows that it is all worthwhile. Her connections to some questionable characters put her in danger. In the midst of all the chaos, she finds herself in the custody of a young girl whose safety hangs in the balance. A girl who she feels is her responsibility. She, therefore, embarks on an action-filled trip around the galaxy in the adventurous way that only she can. Will Suzy evade the hunters or will she just have to run from an attractive one this time?

The second book in a series is always tough to execute especially if it follows the masterpiece that was Suzie Spitfire Kills Everybody. However, Joe Canzano seems to have outdone his first installment in the series. I especially appreciate the in depth characterization throughout this book. He has made Suzie a more wholesome and lovable character, but still a spirit animal full of grit and moxie. In Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus Joe Canzano has added a dimension to her that we may have missed before. This time she has to be a heroine while setting a good example for her protégé. She is still a handful though.

Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus is colored with a delightful mix of profanity and cutting wit. It’s a careful mix of suspense and second guessing that keeps the book engaging. I could rarely guess what was going to happen next. I was surprised by a few twists, shocked by others, and utterly flabbergasted by a few wrinkles in the plot. Everything happens quickly.

The author has favored the use of imagery in this novel. He uses a brilliant application of adjectives among other figures of speech to evoke vivid mental images for the reader. He even affects a splash of hyperbole that elevates the prose and keeps the story consistently compelling.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B08479YQ9H

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Sleepwater Beat

Sleepwater Beat (Blue Helix Book 1) by [Hutson, Kathrin]

Leona has had an irregular life. She has a secret. Spinning beats gets her out of situations. It helps her survive on the cold hard streets. Until one day Karl sees her for who she really is. He knows because he can do it too. He knows other people who might be like her. Sleepwater is not what she thought it would be. She expected days lived with people who understand and maybe finally, some peace. However, her life becomes chaos when she starts being hunted. She will have to run from something worse than what she had run from before. Will the agencies catch up with her? Will Leo catch a break? Can she finally understand her abilities?

Kathrin Hutson has combined so many fan-favorite elements in this book. There is an LGBTQ romance that is well developed and refreshing. Sleepwater Beat provides a suspenseful story filled with surprising twists and a lot of emotion. The plot seems like the author let her imagination run wild. The plot is peppered with escapades and exciting events.

The characters are artfully sculpted. The way Leo is described and introduced to us complete with her attitude is so vivid and detailed. You can almost feel her tangled hair between your fingers. You can smell the cigarettes on her clothes. You hear the slight tobacco-induced rasp in her voice as she gives sass and ‘beats’ people. You will almost fall for Karl’s intentions as he picks up Leo and offers her exactly what she needs. The author has done a great job with the characters. They make you look forward to following them through the Blue Helix series.

The style of writing in this book is a bit gruff. It has a certain quality that puts you right in the street. Maybe it is the wording of the dialogue. Maybe it is the way the words are delivered and by whom. The words just help build the scene for the reader. It is the kind of writing that perfectly fits this kind of story with these kinds of characters.

The alternative throwbacks are especially lovely. They help you compare then and now and give you some insight into the why of now. They give you a better understanding and enhance the connection between the reader and the characters/story.

Sleepwater Beat will bring you face to face with unconventional situations. You will wonder how to handle a clever Leo who maintains a flirty crust while having a broken center. Kudos for successfully thrusting the reader right into the thick of it and keeping them gripped enough to resist leaving.

Pages: 410 | ASIN: B07JZXBRLC

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Giahem’s Talons

Giahem's Talons (The Incarn Saga Book 4) by [Wibell, Katharine]

Lluava is broken, embittered, and lost. She alone bears the responsibility for the fall of the kingdom, and she is more than aware of the fact that she alone can repair it. A young girl herself, she shoulders the weight of her wrongs and is now facing the most difficult task of her life. She has been stripped of her rank and barred from serving in the position she loves most. If she cannot fight, who is she? If she cannot defend, what is her worth? Will she be able to tackle her own demons and change the world as she knows it?

Lluava, a Theriomorph, is the main character of Katharine Wibell’s Giahem’s Talons. This is Wibell’s fourth installment of the Incarn Saga. Wibell has managed to carry over to this fourth book both the look and feel of an intense fantasy rooted in well-developed characters and a riveting plot. Lluava, though a young girl, carries the weight of hundred men on her shoulders and is a fantastic character in her own right. Nowhere else will readers find such a strong example of both femininity and power rolled into one main character.

I was touched by the addition of Odel to this book. His character serves to bring Lluava down to earth when she is beginning to falter. Her entire experience being ostracized and stripped of the right to battle has broken her spirit, but Odel’s appearance grounds her and makes her whole again.

I am intrigued by the idea of the Theriomorph. Lluava stands as a shining example of a race of people who are misunderstood and virtually alone in their characteristics and abilities. The Theriomorphs add a wonderfully rich element to Wibell’s work. As Lluava struggles to prove herself, she bears this additional weight, making her task all the more difficult.

Readers who enjoy fantasies will find everything they require from this genre within the pages of Wibell’s work. Though this is the fourth in a series, readers who have not familiarized themselves with books 1-3 will be able to pick up on page 1 and not feel lost. Wibell pulls together the four books easily and quickly and gives readers sufficient information to be able to read this book without having digested the first three. Giahem’s Talons: Book Four of the Incarn Saga is a compelling fantasy and not to be missed.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B07Y2BSL2N

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Mutual Funds

MUTUAL FUNDS: A POWERFUL INVESTMENT AVENUE FOR INDIVIDUALS by [Mohapatra, R K]

Mutual funds are described as investment vehicles managed by a trust where the pooled money is invested according to regulations. This book allows the reader to understand mutual funds in a fundamental and deeper way. This book is a layman’s lesson on mutual funds delivering an education on risks and returns as well as the benefits and advantages over other forms of investments. Mutual Funds by R.K. Mohapatra inspires smart money management and investment diversification of various mutual fund varieties. It is a detailed and layered lesson on what it takes to successfully invest in mutual funds. In this era of distrust and inaccurate information, it is important to learn from an experienced award-winning individual with a vast knowledge on the subject.

Mutual Funds is tailored for someone with an interest in, but little knowledge of, mutual funds. The author’s 27 years of experience shine through brilliant explanations and discussion on the merits of mutual funds as well as related subjects. R.K. Mohapatra has written the book in a relatable way while still maintaining an air of professionalism.

Mutual Funds provides an in-depth understanding while also giving the reader an idea of the suitable category of mutual funds for them. It is written in simple language which is integral to understanding this relatively complex topic. The book starts slow, with definitions and a simple layman’s explanation of what mutual funds are. It then builds up to the more complicated stuff. This kind of writing is effective in helping you understand a subject without extensive consultation with a professional.

The author’s passion for personal finance and planning shine through on every page. Mutual Funds is a necessary first step to investing in mutual funds.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B084M4SGMP

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